Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City: 2 goals in 3 minutes sees Foxes swipe a point

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Leicester City may have felt hard done by in the first half after Steven Gerrard bagged a pair of debatable penalties to put Liverpool 2-0 up at Anfield, but a storming start to the second half made amends.

David Nugent scored a stunning one-timer and Jeffery Schlupp piggybacked on that with one of his own just three minutes later as Leicester City roared back to draw the Reds and come ever closer to pulling themselves off the bottom of the table.

Riyad Mahrez slammed the post just over a minute into the game, with a free-kick wrong-footing Simon Mignolet and only kept out by the woodwork. He had yet another chance as the clock hit 12 minute gone by, but the cross from Jeffrey Schlupp was just a hair behind Mahrez and he couldn’t get a solid shot on net.

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With Leicester clearly in the ascendency over the first 15 minutes, they were done in by a horrific refereeing decision. Raheem Sterling broke down the left edge of the box, and he sent in a cross which was blocked by the face of a sliding Wes Morgan. However referee Mike Jones gave Liverpool a penalty for handball, and while Morgan’s arms were out during his sliding action, the ball clearly caromed off his face and not his arms.

Gerrard bagged the penalty with ease despite Hamer choosing correctly, and Liverpool went 1-0 up thanks to the decision. Despite the goal, Leicester continued to boss the game and create chances, but failed to put any of them away. In-form Adam Lallana nearly got himself another goal despite on the half-hour mark fumbling a cross at the top of the box, but his recovery shot scuffed just wide of the post.

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Liverpool picked up a second on exactly the same thing, as Danny Simpson handled a cross from Coutinho, and this time the decision seemed a little more straightforward as Simpson’s hand was out in an unnatural position. Gerrard slammed home the penalty for his second and Liverpool’s 2-0 lead five minutes before the break.

After halftime, a dark mark came over the advantage for Liverpool as Adam Lallana was forced off with an injury, an unfortunate turn given his current form.  But then it would all come crashing down for Liverpool in the game as well.

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Two Leicester goals in three minutes brought the Foxes instantly on level terms, with both goals dutifully earned. David Nugent, a first-half substitute for Danny Drinkwater, ripped a one-time shot with the outside of his foot to bring Leicester one back just before the hour mark, and two minutes later it was Jeffery Schlupp who powered home into the bottom right corner past Mignolet who reacted much too late.

It was a deserved pair for the visitors, who had stormed out of the halftime gates and canceled out the two harsh penalties. As the game progressed towards the final whistle, it exploded to life even further with both teams looking for a vital three points. Liverpool had a shout for a third penalty, but Mike Jones shook his head as Borini went down under a slight shove from Brown. Lazar Markovic then missed wide with a header from a good distance away.


Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Toure, Sakho, Moreno (Lambert 85′), Gerrard, Lucas (Markovic 72′), Henderson, Coutinho, Lallana (Borini 55′), Sterling.

Goals: Gerrard (pen) 17′, (pen) 40′

Leicester City: Hamer, De Laet, Drinkwater (Nugent 37′), Morgan, Hammond (Cambiasso 67′), James, Vardy (Ulloa 75′), Schlupp, Simpson, Mahrez, Wasilewski.

Goals: Nugent 58′, Schlupp 60′

Report: Spurs, Inter close to deal for Eriksen

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After months of posturing and working the back channels, it would appear that Christian Eriksen is close to getting his transfer away from Tottenham Hotspur.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

After months of posturing and holding firm, it would appear that Tottenham are close to getting their desired transfer fee for Eriksen despite his contract having only six months remaining.

After months of posturing and unsettling the 27-year-old star, it would appear that Inter Milan are close to getting their Danish international playmaker.

In the end, it would appear that everyone is going to get what they want, only no one truly gets what they want. Spurs spent the last year trying to sign Eriksen to a new contract; Eriksen wanted to leave in the summer and will feel like they wasted six months of his career; much like Inter would have been desperate to bolster their squad in the summer.

[ MORE: Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong ]

$22 million — the amount Spurs will reportedly receive from Inter — will hardly be enough to replace such an influential player, therefore Spurs come out of this long-running saga the worst of the bunch.

As for Eriksen and Inter, it’ll be a challenge for the player to immediately find his footing and shine ever so brightly in the midst of a title race, especially after the side has already slumped to back-to-back draws and fallen four points back of Juventus. Though, reportedly tripling his wages from Spurs to Inter leaves Eriksen the biggest winner in a mostly no-win situation.

Struggling Atleti in unfamiliar territory under Simeone

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MADRID — This is uncharted territory for many Atletico Madrid fans.

Few other times in recent years have they seen their team struggle so much under Diego Simeone.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

Few other times have they seen their coach fail so often while trying to put the team back on track.

Atletico hit a new low under Simeone on Thursday when it was eliminated by third-division club Cultural Leonesa in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey. The 2-1 loss in extra time was the team’s worst result in the cup competition since losing to third-tier club Albacete at the same stage in 2011-12.

Two days after that loss in 2011, Atletico hired the then-mostly unknown Simeone to replace Gregorio Manzano, a move that kick-started one of the club’s most successful eras and led to a Spanish league title, two Europa League trophies and two Champions League final appearances.

Atletico did go through difficult moments under Simeone, including when the team failed to advance past the group stage of the Champions League a couple of seasons ago.

“There were always complicated moments in past seasons, maybe after we didn’t make it in the Champions League, or when we lost in the Champions League finals,” Simeone said. “After being at the club for so long, things like this can happen, although they shouldn’t happen.”

There is a greater sense of urgency about the team’s struggles this time.

In addition to Wednesday’s embarrassing Copa del Rey elimination, Atletico lost the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid on Jan. 12, and already is eight points off the Spanish league lead after 20 matches.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

Before, there used to be a notion that Simeone would quickly turn things around and put the team back on track, but this time there aren’t many signs things will improve again soon.

Atletico has yet to impress since undergoing its biggest squad revamp under Simeone at the end of last season, when it lost Antoine Griezmann and other veteran players such as Filipe Luis and Diego Godin. Young Portugal forward Joao Felix, who arrived to replace Griezmann after a transfer from Benfica worth more than 120 million euros ($133 million), has yet to meet expectations.

More concerning, Atletico is not being nearly as effective as it used to be, when it always seemed to find a way to win matches despite not playing well.

The team remains solid defensively — it has the second-best defense in the Spanish league with 14 goals conceded — but it hasn’t been able to do much in attack recently.

“Everything is harder when you can’t score,” Simeone said.

Only seven teams have scored fewer goals than Atletico’s 22 in the 20-team standings.

Diego Costa has been mostly out injured, and Victor “Vitolo” Machin and Alvaro Morata haven’t done much in attack. Morata is the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals in all competitions, and no one else has more than five.

“We have to be humble enough to be self-critical,” Simeone said. “We need to keep working to try to be ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us. We have a very good squad and I’m sure that the results that we want will start arriving soon.”

Atletico biggest chance to rebound will come next month against European champion Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League. The first leg will be on Feb. 18 in Spain.

Mourinho in favor of PL’s winter break, but says timing all wrong

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Jose Mourinho seems to be quite happy that the Premier League will implement its first-ever winter break next month, allowing players a bit of rest and recovery time during a marathon campaign, but says its timing makes the break almost worthless for clubs competing in European competitions.

[ VIDEO: Haaland has played 59 minutes, scored 5 goals for Dortmund ]

The next four weeks will play out as follows for Tottenham Hotspur: FA Cup against Southampton this weekend; PL fixture against Manchester City next weekend; the following weekend off which results in two weeks without a game; PL fixture against Aston Villa the following weekend; Champions League first leg against RB Leipzig three days later.

In Mourinho’s perfect world, that first round of PL fixtures following the break would be held a week earlier, leaving the seven English clubs competing in the Champions League and Europa League with a week and a half between games before setting out once again to chase European glory. Instead, Tottenham, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea will all have a quick turnaround from PL action to UCL competition — quotes from the Guardian:

“It is what it is. I’m not happy that the break comes in the wrong moment. The break should be before the Champions League and, in the end, before the Champions League we don’t have the break. We have to play Aston Villa on the Sunday, playing [RB Leipzig three] days later. So we don’t really care about the break, honestly.”

Mourinho’s point is a solid one: if the winter break is going to exist — and it should — then why shouldn’t its benefits be maximized? Non-European sides — typically those with smaller squads — would still have the full two weeks between games, while those in Europe are able to better leverage their slightly larger squads with only 10 or 11 days between games — still a lengthy break relative to the rest of the season.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

It’s only the first year of the winter break in the PL, so perhaps hopefully they’ll receive Mourinho’s criticism — and that of any other managers — constructively.

Serie A: AC Milan extends unbeaten run since Zlatan’s arrival

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BRESCIA, Italy (AP) Ante Rebic scored his third goal in two matches, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was superb and AC Milan won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Brescia on Friday to climb into the Europa League places in Serie A.

[ MORE: Report: Man United’s list of possible new strikers revealed ]

Rebic, who scored twice in a win over Udinese last weekend, pounced on a loose ball directly in front of the goal following a cross from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 71st minute.

Since Ibrahimovic’s return to Milan over the holiday break, Milan is unbeaten with four wins and a draw across all competitions.

Donnarumma produced several difficult saves to deny Dimitri Bisoli and Ernesto Torregrossa.

Also, Milan fullback Theo Hernandez hit the crossbar in the closing minutes.

The Rossoneri moved up to sixth place, four points behind fifth-place Atalanta.

[ MORE: Solskjaer’s transfer update; positive on rebuild ]

“Our goal is to qualify for Europe,” Donnarumma said. “We’ve got to continue like this and not rest for a moment. There’s another big Italian Cup match coming up with Torino midweek and we want to reach the semifinals.

“We’ll take it one game at a time and try to keep this momentum going.”

Brescia was without Mario Balotelli, who was suspended for two matches after protesting a booking last weekend that ended up with the striker being sent off.

Brescia remained one point above last-place Genoa.